Known as yi, bowls of this form appears to have been used as pouring vessels together with yuhuchun vases. Chiumei Ho in ‘Social Life Under the Mongols as Seen in Ceramics’, Transactions of the Oriental Ceramic Society, vol. 59, 1994-95, p. 44, notes that in archaeological contexts they are often found together with such vases and wine cups. This pairing is also depicted in a wall painting from the tomb of Zhang Andabuhua and his wife, which has been dated to 1269 A.D., and is illustrated in the catalogue to the exhibition The World of Khubilai Khan. Chinese Art in the Yuan Dynasty, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2010, p. 83, fig. 115.
Bowls of this form were probably inspired by metal prototypes, such as the silver pouring bowl excavated together with a yuhuchun ping from a hoard in Hefei, Anhui province, illustrated ibid., p. 287, figs 330 and 331. These bowls were also used also by Mongols in Iran, as exemplified by the bowl painted in the Enthronement Scene, part of the album Jami al-tavarikh (Compendium of Chronicles), which was commissioned between the reigns of Ghazan (r. 1295-1304) and his brother, Öljeitü (r. 1304-1316), a version of which is in the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin, and included in the exhibition The Legacy of Genghis Khan. Courtly Art and Culture in Western Asia, 1256-1353), The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2002, cat. no. 19, fig. 84.
Spouted bowls painted with this motif of egrets in a lotus pond are rare, although a bowl with a similar motif painted in underglaze red, from the Meiyintang collection, illustrated in Regina Krahl, Chinese Ceramics from the Meiyintang Collection, vol. 2, London, 1994, pl. 632, was sold in these rooms, 8th April 2013, lot 34.
Compare also a blue and white pouring bowl painted with mandarin ducks from the collection of David L. Nathan, now in the National Gallery of Victoria, sold in our London rooms, 15th May 1962, lot 55; one painted with a hare in the British Museum, London, illustrated in Jessica Harrison-Hall, Catalogue of Late Yuan and Ming Ceramics in the British Museum, London, 2001, cat. no. 1:22; and another with two phoenixes excavated at Siwa village, Yaxia town, Gansu province, and now in the Lintao County Museum, included in the exhibition Splendors in Smalt: Art of Yuan Blue-and-white Porcelain, Shanghai Museum, Shanghai, 2012, cat. no. 42.